T. C. Mike Chung
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
325 Steidle Bldg.
Professor Chung obtained his B. S. in Chemistry from Chung Yuan University (Taiwan) in 1976. He came to the U. S. for his graduate study in the Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania in 1979. After finishing his Ph.D work in 1982 on conducting polymers (with Professor A. J. MacDiarmid, Nobel Laureate), he spend two years as a Research Scientist at Institute for polymers and Organic Solids (with Professor Alan J. Heeger, Nobel Laureate), University of California, Santa Barbara. Between 1984 and 1989, he was a Senior Research Staff in Corporate Research, Exxon Company. In 1989 he joined the faculty of the Pennsylvania State University as an associate professor and became professor of Polymer Science in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 1993. He is author of about 200 professional publications, including 2 books and 45 U.S. patents.
Professor Chung is interested in the development of new polymer chemistry that can lead to new materials with unique chemical and physical properties for applications. In his recent research activities, he has been focusing on the technologies relative to energy and environmental issues. Several current research projects include (a) functionalization of polyolefins (PE, PP, EP, etc.) via the combination of metallocene catalysts and reactive comonomers and chain transfer agents to prepare polyolefins containing side-chain or chain-end functional groups, (b) synthesis of long chain branched polyolefin, including i-PP and s-PS, and studying their thin film processing, (c) studying control radical polymerization based on new functional borane/oxygen initiators to prepare functional fluoropolymers, (d) developing new energy storage technology on the polymer thin film capacitors with high energy density, high power density, and low loss, (e) studying new polyolefin-based ion conductors that show high ion conductivity, good fuel selectivity, long term stability, and cost effective, (f) investigating new polyolefin-based oil superabsorbent (oil-SAP) for oil spill recovery, (g) synthesizing boron substituted carbon (B/C) materials and doped derivatives for hydrogen storage. My group at Penn State is recognized as a leading research group in the functionalization of polyolefin and fluoropolymers with more than 180 papers and 50 US and international patents published in the past 20 years.
In light of the 2010 BP disaster in Gulf of Mexico and the 2011 Exxon oil spill in Yellowstone river, showing no effective technology for recovering oil spills and preventing pollution in the air and water, we have recently developed a new polyolefin-based oil super-absorbent polymer (oil-SAP) that exhibits high oil absorption capability (up to 50 times of its weight), fast kinetics, easy recovery from water surface, and no water absorption. The recovered oil/oil-SAP solid is suitable for regular refining process (no pollutants and no wastes). This cost effective new oil-SAP technology shall dramatically reduce the environmental impacts from oil spills and recover most of precious natural resource.